Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A brief demolition of all the arguments against letting a woman lead kabbalas shabbos

The RW of the blogosphere is moaning and groaning about the decision at H.I.R to let a woman lead kabalas shabbos in an auxiliary minyan. Their complaining strikes me as misguided for several reasons.

First, the minyan is optional. Any member of H.I.R who sees no advantage to participating can stay in the main minyan.

Second, decisions made by the Rabbi at H.I.R affect that shul only. If you don't agree with a decision made by the leader of H.I.R, you're under no obligation to make changes at your own shul. Just live and let live.

Third, your complaints are creating a schism. If you can tolerate Hasidic shenanigans without tossing them out of Judaism, I don't see why H.I.R can't be extended the same courtesy. If you succeed in driving H.I.R out of Orthodox Judaism, you are responsible for the children and grandchildren of the people who were made to feel unwelcome in Orthodox Judaism.

Fourth, the fact that this was never done before is irrelevant. Kabalas Shabbos itself is brand new, having been established in the 16th century.

Fifth, the fact that this might lead to something worse is irrelevant. That's the slippery slope argument, and its bogus.

Sixth, your nightmare scenarios aren't that frightening. Harry, for example, frets that next women may wear tfillin or talitot. Newsflash: Jewish women in the non-Othodox sects already wear both, and even some Orthodox women, with the permission of their local bes din, are already wearing tzitzis. Rav Moshe permits it, and in the wonderful words of  Rambam "Women and slaves who want to wrap themselves in tzitzit may do so without a berakha. And so too with other such mitzvot from which women are exempt: if they want to perform them without a berakha, one does not protest" (Hilkhot Tsitsit 3:9).

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